Phillips Saeco Vienna PlusIf you are looking to have coffee house quality drinks but don’t want to spend a large amount of money, espresso machines that are under $500 are a good option. They are decent machines that put out a good shot of espresso while still being affordable. There are a few different options and machine types when looking at espresso machines under $500, so you will be able to find the right one for you. This guide will take you through the different types of espresso machines, how to choose the right machine, and a guide to the best espresso machines. It will help you narrow down your choices so you will be drinking hot espresso in no time.

Our Best Pick

The Breville BES840XL Infuser espresso machine is our top pick for the finest espresso machines under $500. The machine will give you a steady low pressure pre-infusion so the most amount of flavor and aroma will be extracted from your beans. Furthermore, it has a lot of features that make this our best pick along with being an excellent price.

The PID temperature control gives you temperature stability and the auto purge gives you the optimal water temperate so you get the most out of your espresso. The espresso machine has a 360 degree swivel wand so you can froth your own milk with ease.

Volume control is easy as you can preset one or two cup volumes. If you change your mind while the machine is making your shot, you can override it and reprogram the shot volumes. The water tank is large as it hold 61 ounces of water and can be removed easily with a handle. Another nice feature is the built-in water filter, which removes the impurities from your water and scales it. This helps your machine last longer and gives you better tasting espresso.

The machine is small in size but still has lots of power. It is just under ten inches wide and you will hardly hear it running. This means it will fit nicely on your counter while still putting out high quality espresso. Furthermore, you will not have to hear loud grinding noises like some other machines make while they are making your espresso. Overall, it is a nice machine for under $500.

Types of Espresso Machines

There are a few different types of espresso machines you should be aware of before you start shopping. This way, you will be able to better understand what type of machine suits your style. Some are easier to use where others will take practice to get good at. Take into consideration the type of espresso machine you want because this will make a huge difference on whether you use it or get frustrated and give up.

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual espresso machines are also known as piston espresso machines. They are designed to be stylish while giving you complete control over the type of shot that comes out of the machine. The piston espresso machine is made up of a portafilter, grouphead, a piston, level, and a boiler. The lever is lifted once the boiler hits the right temperature. Once the lever is raised, the piston forces water through the boiler and then through the coffee grounds that are located in the portafilter. Espresso drips out of the spout and right into your cup. These were the first type of espresso machines invented and take a lot of practice to get the right espresso. Furthermore, there are not many, if any, manual espresso machines under $500. Normally, they are higher end and therefore cost above $1,000 and as much as $5,000 or more.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi-automatic espresso machines do not require you to work not much as manual espresso machines, but they still give you a good amount of control over your espresso shots. These were invented in the 1940s by a barista named Gaggia and many people consider these “traditional” espresso machines.

The semi-automatic espresso machines takes ground coffee, so you will need a good grinder to put good espresso into these machines. In addition, you will need to tamp the coffee, meaning compact it, so it fits well in the portafilter. If you do all of this correctly, you will have the right amount of resistance that is needed for the brewing process.

One the grounds are in the portafilter, the electrical part of the machine takes over and forces water from the boiler and through the portafilter and coffee grounds. The espresso then comes out of the machine and pours directly into your cup.

If you have never used a semi-automatic espresso machine before, it may take a little time to get the hang of this. If you are the type of person who gets frustrated right away, this may not be the machine for you. If you are looking to learn more about crafting the perfect espresso and want to learn, then try the semi-automatic machine.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Super automatic espresso machines does everything for you, all you need to do is press a button. They are very convenient and have the same components as a semi-automatic espresso machines, with a few extra features. Most super automatic machines feature a burr coffee grinder so there is no need to purchase an extra one, unless you want a more specific grind.

Just because the super automatic machines makes the espresso for you, doesn’t mean you do not have choices. The automatic machines have features so you have options when it comes to finding your perfect shot of espresso. You can program the machine to brew your espresso strong or weak, and make a variety of different coffee drinks such as cappuccinos, lattes, and café crema.

If you want espresso at the touch of a button, choose a super automatic espresso machine. They are simple to use, even if you have never used these types of machines before.

How to Choose the Best Espresso Machine

Choosing an espresso machine can be somewhat overwhelming at first, but this guide will help you through the process to make it easier. The first thing to think about is the type of machine. Do you want a semi-automatic, manual, or super automatic espresso machine? This will help narrow down your choices immensely once you decide how much you want to do when making your espresso.

Another option when choosing an espresso machine is to think about the size of it and where it will fit on your countertop. Measure the space and double check the dimensions of the machine before you purchase it. This way, you won’t end up with something that is too wide or too tall to fit because that will be pretty disappointing. In addition, if you plan on purchasing a coffee grinder, take that into consideration as well. Is it going next to the espresso machine? If so, then you may need extra space.

Take into consideration the boiler type when choosing espresso machines. There are three types of boilers in machines, which include a single boiler, double boiler, and a heat exchanger. If you want to brew and steam at the same time, you will need a double boiler. Not all machines have them and they tend to be in the more expensive machines, so keep that in mind as well.

Features to Look for in an Espresso Machine

There are a few different features to take into consideration when looking at espresso machines. People have their own preferences, so we will explain each figure so you can decide on which one you think you will like best.

Brew

Super automatic espresso machines can be programmed to brew the perfect shot for you. This means it has a built-in time already determined when to end the shot. Sometimes the shot can end too soon leaving you with subpar espresso. Yet, you can adjust the settings to meet your needs, whether you want strong or weak coffee.

When it comes to semi-automatic machines, you control the flow of water with every cup of espresso you make. This is the part of the semi-automatic machine that may take some time to get used to. You will use the lever to control the flow of water. If the water is coming out too slow, then you can let it run to finish up the shot instead of the pump stopping automatically.

Portafilter

The portafilter in the machines either come pressurized or non-pressurized. Some machines have the option of going from one to the other, those do usually cost more but they are an option. Non-pressurized portafilters give you more temperature stability than the pressurized version because they are made with chrome or chrome plated brass. Keep in mind that if you do use a non-pressurized portafilter you will need a precise tamp and grind. It can get pretty technical, but it may take a few tries.

Pressurized portafilters do not let water out until the right pressure is reached. This way, if there is an even tamp or imperfect grind, the portafilter can compensate for it. The pressurized option is a good one for beginners or those who have not perfected their tamp or grind yet.

Grinder

Semi-automatic espresso machines do not come with a built-in grinder. This can be a pro or con depending on how you look at it. Some people prefer to purchase their own grinders because they can control the grind more. Others would rather have the convenience of a built-in grinder like that in a super automatic espresso machine because you just dump the coffee beans in a push start. The super automatic machines do allow you to choose the grind, although there will be less options than a separate grinder.

Frothing

The type of boiler your machine has will impact whether you can froth/steam the same time as your brew. Normally, the machines under $500 come with a single boiler, which means you will not be able to froth and brew at the same time. The larger machines that have a dual boiler system or a heat exchanger do allow you to do both at the same time.

Advantages of a Machine Under $500

Espresso machines under $500 are considered entry level machines. They give you features that are beyond the basic espresso extraction. The temperature and pressure controls are more reliant than the cheaper machines, which gives you better tasting coffee. If you are going from a $100 or $200 machine, you will notice a difference in the quality of the parts as well.

Another advantage of an espresso machine in general is that you do not have to go to the coffee shop anymore for your favorite drink. This saves you time and money in the long run. In addition, you can experiment with different shots of espresso and fine tune your drink making skills.

Disadvantages of a Machine Under $500

The downside to espresso machines under $500 is they are not as high in quality as those as machines that cost $1,000 or more. Most do not come with dual boilers so you cannot steam and brew at the same time. This makes it longer to make more than one drink at a time.

Some machines are noisy, which is another disadvantage. While making espresso, you really don’t want to hear the machine grinding and whirring. Check out the reviews and guide to ensure the machine you are going to purchase is quiet if this bothers you.

Another disadvantage of espresso machines under $500 is they can come with subpar parts, such as the tamper. If you want the best tasting espresso, check out the other accessories to purchase with your machine to make up for this parts. A good sign that you want to consider buying a new tamper is if it is made of plastic.

Why Trust Me

Along with having owned my own espresso machines, I have put hours of research into finding the highest quality espresso machine under $500. I took into consideration price, features, usability, and customer reviews. I believe in a good tasting espresso shot as well as crafting your own coffee drinks from home, so my goal is to bring you the most up to date information on espresso machines.

How I Chose the Best

I gathered all the latest information on the finest espresso machines under $500. I took into consideration the above criteria and made a list. From there, I compared the machines side by side to see how the performed against each other. Those that performed well moved up on the list as well as those that had better features. Durability was also taken into consideration as well as warranties. Some machines come with warranties and some don’t, so be sure to check the box or instruction manual if that is a deal breaker for you.

The Best Espresso Machines Under $500

The following is a guide to the best espresso machines under $500. We took many things into consideration so you only have the top machines in the $500 range to choose from. This should help you narrow down your choices and make it easier to pick your espresso machine. Before you know it, you will be brewing your own coffee drinks in the comfort of your home.

Breville BES840XL

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The Breville Infuser espresso machine is our best pick for the top espresso machine under $500. It is a solid machine that will give you a good shot of espresso. Breville named this machine “The Infuser” because it draws out a well-balanced flavor from the beans. It gives you an even extraction so you get the right amount of flavor and aroma from the beans. In addition, the Infuser allows you to control the volume of the water that goes into your shot as well as the temperature settings. These can easily be programmed to your liking so you can somewhat customize your drink.

Features

The thermocoil heating system has stainless steel coils so you can control the temperature with more precision. Extracting espresso at the right temperature is important to get the right flavor and aroma from the beans.

The Breville Infuser features an auto purge and a 15 bar Italian pump. The purge returns the water temperature back to normal and the pump ensures you have the right amount of pressure. Once your shot is extracted, the machine gets rid of the excess water for you. Furthermore, there is a cup warmer on top so your espresso will stay hotter longer.

Negative Aspects

One of the downsides to this machine is the PID is not programmable. In addition, you cannot set the brew temperature at a certain point, you just have to deal with the manufacturer’s settings. However, Breville does know espresso, so it should put out piping hot espresso every time.

Why It’s Worth It

Even though you cannot program the temperature, you can control it. In addition, Breville guarantees a stable temperature so you can an ideal shot every time you make one. The pre-infusion is another part of this machine that makes it worth it. The pre-infusion moistens your coffee grounds before they are extracted for the most flavor. Lastly, the espresso machine is small in size so it will not take up much room on your counter.

Who It’s For

If you are looking for a decent espresso machine under $500, this is the top choice. It is a solid piece of machinery for the price range and will make consistently tasty espresso shots. The large water tanks makes it so you do not have to fill it up very often and it is simple to use for beginners.

What People Are Saying

Through online research, we found that people liked this machine and says it creates great espresso. Some had issues with it lasting for about 15 months, but not everyone had the same experience. Those who had never used an espresso machine before said this one was easy to use right from the beginning. In addition, people liked the way it looked and fit on their counter.

Gaggia 14101 Classic

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The Gaggia 14101 Classic is our second pick for the best espresso machines under $500. It is a good starter espresso machine if you have never purchased one before. The machine has the basic features along with a few extras to take it a step above others in its class. Furthermore, the price is right on so you can’t argue with that.

Features

The Gaggia espresso machines started out in Italy, so you know this one is designed well. It features a 17 and a half bar pump to express the most flavor of your beans. The water tank holds 72 ounces, so you will not have to fill it up very often, compared to some of the other machines.

The commercial grade portafilter with a 58 mm diameter distributes water evenly over the tampered grounds. This gives you the most perfect brew even with fine grounds. The brass filter is chrome-plated brass so the temperature will stay even during the brewing process. Furthermore, the aluminum boiler is heated from two sides so there is equal heat distribution.

The switches on the Gaggia Classic allow you to control the temperature. There is an indicator lights and a steam switch so you will know just where you are during the brewing process. Another nice feature is the cup warmer that can heat up to five cups at once. It uses the residual heat from the machine so it doesn’t take up too much power.

Negative Aspects

The Gaggia Classic is not as user friendly as other machines in its class. For example, if the steam prep button is pressed before serving coffee, the holder will give you steam and water, which is not what you want. It is hard to tell if the button is pressed down, so this can be somewhat frustrating.

Another negative aspect is it is not as fast as some of the other machines. It take a few minutes to heat up so you will be waiting a little longer for your espresso than if you were to purchase a different machine.

Why It’s Worth It

The Gaggia Classic machine creates high quality espresso for under $500. It is a solid machine that was designed it Italy, so it is authentic.  Gaggia is also the man who invented semi-automatic espresso machines, so it is a trusted brand that has spanned many generations.

Who It’s For

This espresso machine is perfect for those who are on a budget but still want delicious espresso in the home. It is simple to understand for beginners just starting out, yet provides a consistent shot of espresso every time.

What People Are Saying

Those who use this machine on a regular basis say it creates excellent espresso and only needs to be cleaned once or twice a month. Many people have had the machine for a few years and say it works great as long as you keep it clean. One thing people noted was the pitcher fills with foam before the milk is warm. To fix this, people put milk in the microwave before steaming it.

Phillips Saeco Vienna Plus Automatic

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The Pilips Saeco Vienna Plus super automatic espresso machine is another good choice for espresso machines under $500. It is reliable and produces a rich shot of espresso every time you brew your coffee. The strength and volume of your coffee can be chosen each time or be set so it is ready for you.

Features

The Philips Saeco Vienna Plus has a control pane that is easy to use, even if you have never used an espresso machine before. This machine can make many types of coffee drinks, such as café crema. The pre-infusion system will give you extra flavor in each shot of expresso. The built-in grinder is also a nice feature and it designed to be durable. The hopper holds 12 ounces of fresh beans and seals in the flavor with a lid.

Negative Aspects

The espresso machine can be somewhat loud while it is running. This may be enough to put some people off because there are quality machines that work much quieter. Another negative aspect is the plastic construction. The all-plastic construction can be a put off to some, especially those who are used to stainless steel.

Why It’s Worth It

The super automatic machine is simple to use and you can adjust the drink to the strength of your liking. It is also reliable, so you can count on the same shot every time.

Who It’s For

This machine is perfect for those who want an automated espresso machine while still having some choices. You can program it to make espresso to your liking. It is simple to use so perfect for beginners.

What People Are Saying

Our research found that people who have used this machine every day for a few years have found it to be a reliable and consistent machine. People did note not to use hard water and only use distilled so your machine will last longer. Some people did comment that it is really loud, which is a downside to this machine.

DeLonghi Dedica Espresso Machine

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The DeLonghi Dedica espresso machine is an excellent choice for any size kitchen. It measures seven inches wide by 13 inches tall, so it will fit on most countertops. The machine makes you hot, fast, and delicious espresso. It takes about 40 seconds to heat up so you will have your drink in no time.

Features

With the Dedica espresso machine, you can program your water temperature and set the water hardness to get your ideal brew. The stainless steel panarello is a nice feature for frothing and heating milk. It also gives you easy access to hot water. The Dedica gives you a choice of brewing a single shot or a double shot when you need that extra kick of espresso to get you started. The cup warmer rounds off the feature list so your espresso stays hotter longer.

Negative Aspects

The DeLonghi Dedica uses only pressurized baskets and there is no option to switch it out for a non-pressurized one. The machine is very light. While this may seem like a good thing, keep in mind that it may move while on the counter and can twist the portafilter on and off.

Why It’s Worth It

The DeLonghi Dedica makes great tasting espresso fast. It is simple to use and has plenty of features so you will not feel like you are missing out. Make all kinds of coffee drinks in the comfort of your own home and entertain guests as well.

Who It’s For

The Dedica is perfect for those who are just starting to get into espresso and espresso machines. It is an entry level machine that has the features you need to make tasty espresso without having to learn all of the technicalities.

What People Are Saying

Through our research, we found that this machine stood up to the test of time. People made espresso drinks every day for years and this machine help up well. Most people say the espresso and coffee drinks taste delicious while looking stylish on your countertop. There were a few complains of the machine that stopped working after six months, which seemed a problem during a certain time period.

Breville 800EXL

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If you are unsure about the others above and want one last option, check out the Breville 800EXL. It is made with stainless steel and measures 15 inches by 16 inches by 13 inches. At only 31 pounds, it is pretty lightweight when compared to other machines. Last but not least definitely comes into play with this machine because it still has a lot of features that you are sure to like, along with the price.

Features

The machines features a 15 bar pump and a ThermoBlock heating system. The machine will stay at 204 degrees Fahrenheit so your espresso shot will come out at the perfect temperature every time. The steam wand is able to swivel so you can create the right froth from your milk. If you want a different drink, the steam want can put out hot water on demand. The machine has a four and a half inch clearance so you can use it with larger cups.

Negative Aspects

If you really want the machine to turn off, you need to unplug it. This can be a little annoying because if you do leave it on it will make a low humming noise and take up energy in your household. There is some vibration while making espresso as well. The tank may vibrate off of its place and onto the drip area.

Why It’s Worth It

The grinder in this machine is good and will give you a find grind for your espresso shots. It may not be as fine as grind as a separate grinder, but it does a good job. The machine creates the perfect espresso shot the first time.

Who It’s For

The Breville 800EXL is an entry level machine designed for beginner users. All you have to do is follow the instructions in the manual to create the perfect espresso shot or coffee drink. Experienced baristas have used this machine before and found it made similar drinks to that in the coffee house.

What People Are Saying

People who bought this machine said it is well worth it for the price. It is reliable, simple to use, and cleaning is easy. Those who have used this machine on a regular basis said it lasts a few years as long as keep it clean per the instructions. Some people noted they wished the portafilter was larger so they could make more than two cups of stronger espresso at a time. Another thing people noted was the steaming wand continued to put out water or steam after they turned it off.

Other Equipment You Should Purchase

When you want the best tasting espresso in your home, sometimes you need to purchase more than just the espresso machine. Buying a few accessories can really take your coffee drinks to the next level. Consider these in conjunction with the espresso machine purchase.

Tamper

Most espresso machines include tapers, but normally they are made of plastic or are not of the highest quality. Having a nice tamper can make your life a lot easier and give you better tasting espresso. So how do you choose a coffee tamper? Make sure to look for tampers that fit your filter basket. If you cannot measure it, then bring the basket to the store with you. While at the store, you may notice some tampers are flat while some are convex. This will be a personal preference on which one to choose. If you can try them out, even better because you will be able to feel how the tamper sits in your hand.

Grinder

The grinder is one of the most important parts of making coffee. Some espresso machines come with them and some don’t. You may prefer to purchase your own grinder even if your espresso machine comes with one because it will give you more control over your grind. Furthermore, it gives you higher quality espresso because it gives you the perfect size for optimal extraction. Grinders come in all price ranges, so you can find one that suits your budget and give you good tasting espresso.

Final Word

Finding a good quality espresso machine under $500 does not have to be difficult, in fact; this guide has given you the top choices to choose from. They all have their pros and cons, so go through the list and see which one fits your style. In addition to espresso machines, consider purchasing accessories such as a high quality tamper and grinder. This will improve the taste of your drink.